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Friday, September 29, 2023

Her brother smoked marijuana. Her aunt drank alcohol. She ate food.

For Ellen, compulsive eating was like a drug and made her life unmanageable.

Food was her outlet of choice for escapism — her remedy for a bad day.

“At least it was legal,” she would say to herself. “At least I’m not poisoning my lungs with tar or my liver with toxins.”

Ellen is one of about 54,000 members of Overeaters Anonymous, a worldwide fellowship that has found a solution to the problems arising from overeating. There are more than 6,500 meeting groups in about 75 countries.

“We’re proud of how far OA has come in the last 50 years and the thousands of people who have found recovery and fulfillment because of it,” said Naomi Lippel, managing director. “We look forward to increasing public awareness and providing hope and resources to those who continue to suffer from this disease.”

And on this fourth Thursday in November, it will not just be a pleasant holiday to embrace a full table of food and family. Members like Ellen will be faced with the challenge — to overeat or not to overeat.

“Thanksgiving is a feast day, that’s what it’s for,” said Ellen. “But for people who have a problem with food, it helps us get together and support each other.”

For those struggling with overeating, the group meets every Monday at noon at the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator, 12085 Research Drive. All ages are welcome, and it’s free.

Overeaters Anonymous helps people with any eating disorder, including binging, bulimia and anorexia. The meetings deal with how to get through the holidays without eating compulsively and how to have a healthy relationship with food.

“Food was my obsession and my life,” said member Nadine. “Now I have peace and serenity in my life and a healthier relationship with food. I’m happier because of it.”

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